Last Man Standing

The Bang continues; our deadline for our second assignment was today at 2pm (Friday 17th Nov 2017).  According to our WhatsApp chatter, it seems like everyone was working until the last minute again.  We have another assignment to hand in next week (Management and Innovation) and out Metrology assignment should have been in next week, but they have now given us a two-week extension.  Trouble is, we have wall to wall lectures, Monday to Friday for the next 4 weeks.


In my post before my last entry (Precision Engineering), I mentioned that our most experienced lecturer, Dr Paul Morantz had been made redundant and will be leaving us at the end of November.  Well, now


our Course Director, Dr Renaud Jourdain has been cut loose and finishes next March.  Poor Renaud, he was only promoted to Course Director this year, they wouldn’t even let him finish one year.  It’s not as if we don’t need lecturers and thesis supervisors, three were cut loose last year, now these two which I think only leaves us two left, the youngest ones.  Even though they are young, they are very bright and enthusiastic, but they do not have the experience to offer as many supervisory options as we have now.  I’m not even sure what will happen to me as I was hoping to work on the R2R machine.  Who can supervise me?

KernAnyway, it’s been so hectic that I have had no time to write a post for ages.  Our Precision Engineering assignment was to describe and criticize a KERN Evo automatic milling machine.  I had never even heard of one before I read the assignment at the end of the weeks lectures.  I don’t believe that it was even mentioned, so that’s what Research Students must put up with.  No starting information at all, all research.  It’s a wonderful machine, it’s amazing how much Engineering has changed since I started my apprenticeship.   I spent 3 months in machine shop shortly after our first your in the training school; I was placed with the operator of an automatic turret lathe.  It was state of the art at the time as it used a roll of punched tape that provided the control.  The operator put the casting in, clamped it and pressed the green button.  We then waited for 15 minutes while all the machining operations were done and he changed the casting and pressed the green button again.  It’s very difficult to keep up with it, especially as a contractor where you are moving onto different projects all the time.

The second part of the assignment described a cylindrical part that was to have 25, 80-micron diameter x 20 mm pins machined at one end.  Well, the first thing that struck me was that it was impossible!  Why would you want to?  Why not fit the pins to the cylinder rather than machine them from solid?  I couldn’t believe that it was possible anyway, so I created a solid model to see.

80 micron diameter pins                                      800 micron diameter pins

Surely, its not possible to machine this from solid?  Even if it is, it would be so delicate, what the hell could you use it for.  Trouble is, things have changed so much that I am starting to doubt myself.  Have to wait until we get our results now anyway.  We had to talk about how they would be made from Aluminium and Tungsten Carbide.  Again, tungsten Carbide is so strong and hard that it is glass brittle.  I cant see, even the 800 micron pins being able to be used for anything.  I’m hoping that they have put trick questions in, otherwise, the most experienced chap in the group is going to look pretty stupid.  Mohammad found a relevant 2017 paper written by the two lecturers that will be marking this assignment.  I cited it and wrote that it was written by “very distinguished Dr’s”.  The second time, I also mentioned that they were also handsome.  You have to hedge your bets and there is always room for a little humor.


We also had a week of lectures for Management and Innovation.


Although its not really my cup of tea, our two lecturers couldn’t have done more to make it interesting.  I don’t remember falling asleep once.  However, from day one, they split us into groups and we seemed to have to do a presentation at least once a day.  I have never known a course like it, but at least its helping to diminish my phobia about public speaking.  Our main lecturer was Dr Clive Savory who was at DeMontfort University and the Open University before he came to Cranfield.  The other one was Professor Marek Szwejczewski who has published more than 50 papers.  I couldn’t help thinking that Prof Marek looked just like a young Jasper Carrot.  His mannerisms were the same as well.  He didn’t tell any jokes, but I still called him Jasper once, but I think I got away with it.

DSCF3255.JPGAnyway, by Friday, we had to do a group project where we were to design a “City Car”.  We were to create a business model and build a prototype out of Lego.  It had to park autonomously in a multi-story car park.  It also had to park itself in one of three spaces and if they were full, parallel park.  It had to have lights, carry luggage and make a noise when it reversed.  Ours, even had a soft top that tilted up.   We only had about 3.5 hours so we had to split into different jobs and work concurrently to save time.  We didn’t stop for lunch or even a cup of DSCF3257bloody tea.  Luckily we had a “coder” to write the software, so I worked with him as the hardware engineer.  I used to love Lego.  Anyway, we were the only team that managed to complete every task and it ran autonomously almost perfectly.  We had the most luggage, it was a sports car and top end but we only came second because of the others in our team that created the business model I guess.  Anyway it was great fun; except for the damn presentations.  The base was a controller with three sensors that we had to build Lego parts onto, program, download the program and run it autonomously.  Have to go now as I’m out on the lash with Dr George and its an hour walk so more next time.


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